Do you want to add a touch of drama to your photos? Split toning is one of the most powerful tools in Adobe Lightroom that can help you achieve stunning, eye-catching images. Whether you’re a beginner or a professional photographer, understanding how to effectively use split toning can take your editing skills to the next level.

Introduction to Split Toning

Split toning is a technique that involves adding different colors to the highlights and shadows of an image. By selectively applying hues to specific tonal ranges, you can create a unique, artistic effect that enhances the mood and atmosphere of your photos.

Traditionally, split toning was done in the darkroom using chemical processes. However, with the advent of digital photography and software like Adobe Lightroom, split toning has become easily accessible to photographers of all levels.

Choosing the Right Colors

The key to successful split toning is choosing the right colors that complement each other and evoke the desired emotional response in your viewers. When selecting colors, consider the overall theme or mood you want to convey. Warm tones, such as oranges and yellows, can create a cozy and nostalgic atmosphere, while cool tones like blues and greens can give a sense of calmness or mystery.

Using the Split Toning Panel in Lightroom

To access the split toning panel in Adobe Lightroom, go to the Develop module and locate the panel on the right-hand side. The panel consists of two sections: Highlights and Shadows.

In the Highlights section, you can adjust the hue and saturation of the colors that will be applied to the brighter areas of your image. Experiment with different hues to find the right tone that complements your subject and enhances the mood you want to convey. Increase or decrease the saturation to control the intensity of the effect.

In the Shadows section, you can control the hue and saturation of the colors that will be applied to the darker areas of your image. Again, play around with different hues to find the perfect balance.

Remember, subtlety is key when it comes to split toning. Avoid going overboard with the saturation as it can result in an unrealistic or overpowering effect.

Practical Tips for Using Split Toning

1. Enhance Sunsets and Sunrise

Split toning can be particularly effective when enhancing the colors of sunsets and sunrises. Experiment with warm hues like oranges and reds in the Highlights section to bring out the vibrant tones of the sky, while adding a touch of cool blues or purples to the Shadows section can create a beautiful contrast.

2. Creating a Vintage Look

If you’re aiming to give your photos a vintage, nostalgic feel, try using split toning to add warm, sepia tones to the Highlights section and cool blues to the Shadows section.

3. Adding Drama to Black and White Photos

To add depth and drama to your black and white images, experiment with split toning by applying subtle color hues to the Highlights and Shadows sections. This can help create a more visually interesting and dynamic image.

4. Experiment with Unconventional Color Combinations

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and experiment with unconventional color combinations. Sometimes, unexpected tones can create a truly unique and striking effect in your photos.


Split toning is a powerful tool in Adobe Lightroom that can elevate your photos to a new level. By selectively applying different colors to the highlights and shadows, you can create dramatic, eye-catching images that grab the viewer’s attention. Remember to choose colors wisely, experiment with various combinations, and embrace your creativity. With practice and patience, you’ll master the art of split toning and create stunning visuals that leave a lasting impression.